Russia planning to initiate OSCE reform

Associated Press Worldstream
August 24, 2004 Tuesday 8:07 AM Eastern Time

Russia planning to initiate OSCE reform

by STEVE GUTTERMAN; Associated Press Writer


Russia wants reforms in a top European security and democracy
organization and will discuss the initiative with the leaders of
France and Germany when they visit President Vladimir Putin next
week, reports said Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia wants changes that would
make the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe “truly
effective” and responsive to “the interests of all its participants,”
Russian news agencies reported.

Lavrov told Putin that the issue of OSCE reform would be on the
agenda of his Aug. 30-31 summit with French President Jacques Chirac
and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the Russian Black Sea
resort city of Sochi, Interfax reported.

Lavrov said France and Germany expressed the willingness to discuss
the issue after Russia and eight other former Soviet republics
sharply criticized the Vienna-based organization last month.

In what they called an “unprecedented collective demarche” in early
July, Russia and the other countries accused the OSCE of double
standards, saying it unfairly criticizes governments in some

The declaration, read by Russia’s delegation, said that the 55-nation
group spends too much money on field missions to promote human rights
and democratic institutions in certain countries, while overlooking

The OSCE was part of observing missions that said Russia’s
parliamentary elections last December and the presidential campaign
that led to Putin’s March re-election fell short of democratic

The OSCE’s watchdog functions in Belarus have been limited after a
confrontation with the authoritarian leadership there, and Russia has
criticized OSCE representatives in the breakaway Georgian region of
South Ossetia.

The July statement was issued by Russia, Armenia, Belarus,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.
At the time, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the OSCE
focused its field missions in those countries and the Balkans and
accused it of ignoring the rights of minorities in Latvia and Estonia
– Baltic states that have significant ethnic Russian populations and
strained ties with Russia.

In a statement issued in July by the Netherlands, which holds the
rotating EU presidency, the union said it would reflect on the issues
raised by Russia and the other countries but had “serious concern
about certain elements of the declaration.”